When C/1/24 returned to Camp Maui after the bloody battle of Iwo Jima, they faced the difficult task of rebuilding their company back to fighting strength. All of their officers and the majority of their senior NCOs had been killed or wounded, and even after the capable veterans received promotions, there were still numerous vacancies in the upper echelons of platoon leadership. These billets had to be filled by replacements.
Stanley Michaluk, a twenty three-year-old platoon sergeant from Linden, New Jersey, was one such replacement. Michaluk had nearly three years in the Marines under his belt when he reported for duty in March, 1945; prior to enlisting, he served with the National Guard and the US Army (as Sergeant Stanley Mickalski). This experience helped explain how he rose so quickly from buck private to senior infantry NCO without serving overseas. Michaluk was a former DI, a graduate of Scout/Sniper school and Rifle Platoon Leader’s class–he was well trained and motivated, but had no combat experience.
On the night of July 2, 1945 Charlie Company trooped out to Training Area #8 for a combat exercise. Everything went smoothly until the company reached one of the more formidable challenges: scaling a 45-foot cliff in the dark. Disaster struck as several men lost their footing and fell from the cliff. Two men were slightly injured; a third, PFC Bob Moss, was worse hurt and sent back to the States. Platoon Sergeant Michaluk fell the full distance, shattering both wrists and fracturing his skull. Mercifully, death was instantaneous.
Stanley Michaluk is buried in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, Section C, Grave 821.